Monday’s Rough Landing Brings More Turbulence to Boeing

Boeing737

When arriving at New York’s LaGuardia Airport on Monday evening, the landing gear of Southwest (NYSE:LUV) Flight 345 collapsed, sending the aircraft skidding along the 7,500-foot runway on its nose before it veered off into a grassy area.

“The aircraft is a Boeing 737-700. Eyewitness reports indicate the aircraft’s nosegear collapsed upon landing,” Southwest Airlines said in press release. “There were 150 people on board including Customers and Crew. All Customers have been deplaned and transferred to the terminal. Initial reports indicate local responders are caring for five Customers and three flight attendants who have reported injuries at this time.”

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the incident, the agency said.

Thomas Bosco, the acting director of aviation for the Port Authority, told CBS News that there was no advanced warning of the problem before the landing. However, passenger Sgt. 1st Class Anniebell Hanna of the South Carolina National Guard told CBS News that the the flight had been delayed leaving Nashville, and passengers had heard an announcement that “something was wrong with a tire.”

A picture submitted to The Dallas Morning News’s aviation blog by an observer, ex-Dallas City Council candidate Bobby Abtahi, shows the plane’s rear slide deployed.

Monday’s incident came just 16 days after an Asiana Airlines-operated Boeing (NYSE:BA) 777 crash-landed at San Francisco International Airport, resulting in the death of three teenagers and the injury of dozens of others; the incident is also only 10 days after an empty Ethiopian Airlines-operated 787 Dreamliner caught fire in London.

The blaze at London’s Heathrow Airport got investors’ attention. The flames caused extensive heat damage to the craft and were the result of the malfunction of a Honeywell-manufactured (NYSE:HON) emergency locator transmitter. For Boeing — which has struggled to rebuild confidence in the wide-body plane after a series of battery meltdowns forced a grounding of the entire 787 fleet in January — it was a relief to find out that the source of the fire was not the Dreamliner’s complex electrical system , one of the plane’s key innovations. But even before the United Kingdom’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch released its preliminary findings on the fire, Boeing’s shares had recovered from the 4.7 percent dip they took the day of the fire.

As for the collapse of the Boeing 737’s landing gear, Patrick Smith — a longtime pilot and author of “Cockpit Confidential: Everything You Need to Know About Air Travel. Questions, Answers, and Reflections” — said to CBS that such incidents are not high on the list of pilots’ worries. “It doesn’t happen very often but I need to emphasize just how comparatively minor this is and how far, far down the hierarchy it is. From a pilot’s perspective, this is nearly a non-issue. They make for good television, but this is far down the list of nightmares for pilots.”

Shares of Boeing opened the trading period up from Monday’s close of $106.68 but fell slightly back into the red early on Tuesday. Still, the stock has been trading close to its 52-week high despite the recent technical problems. Shares of Southwest took a dip as well, falling slightly less than 1 percent Tuesday morning to around $13.81.

Follow Meghan on Twitter @MFoley_WSCS

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